Southern Africa - Tropical Cyclone Idai - Fact Sheet #3 FY2019

March 29, 2019

Numbers At A Glance


Official Confirmed Deaths in Mozambique


Number of Deaths Deaths in Zimbabwe

1.85 million

Estimated Number of People in Need of Assistance in Mozambique


Estimated Number of People in Accommodation Centers in Mozambique


Estimated Houses Damaged or Destroyed in Mozambique

1.7 million

Estimated Acres of Crops Damaged or Destroyed in Mozambique

Humanitarian Funding


USAID/FFP $3,370,000
USAID/OFDA $3,131,407
DoD $766,891
TOTAL $7,268,298


  • UN revises 2019 Mozambique HRP to account for needs generated by Tropical Cyclone Idai
  • USAID DART observes humanitarian conditions and conducts assessment of accommodation centers in Beira
  • USAID/OFDA commodities begin to arrive in Mozambique on March 30
  • At USAID’s request, DoD provides logistics support for the Mozambique response

The Government of Mozambique (GoM) reported at least 493 confirmed deaths due to Tropical Cyclone Idai as of March 29. The cyclone also damaged or destroyed more than 99,300 houses, according to the GoM. Casualty figures and damage estimates are expected to continue to rise as flood waters recede and relief agencies identify additional deaths and conduct assessments. Nearly 140,800 people were sheltering in more than 161 accommodation sites in Manica, Sofala, Tete, and Zambézia provinces as of March 29, the GoM reports.

The Humanitarian Country Team (HCT) in Mozambique released a revised 2019 Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) on March 25, requesting nearly $282 million to respond to the impacts of Tropical Cyclone Idai. An estimated 1.85 million people are in need of assistance due to the effects of the cyclone, an increase from the initial estimates of 600,000 people, according to the HRP. The appeal identifies food, health, shelter, and water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) assistance as priority needs in affected areas.

On March 27, USAID Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) members traveled to Sofala’s Beira city to observe humanitarian conditions and assess needs in and around the city. The team noted that markets in Beira were operational and observed food and household items for sale. However, hygiene conditions at accommodation centers were poor and food and other supplies provided by humanitarian agencies were insufficient for the number of people in need.

In addition to the impacts in Mozambique, Tropical Cyclone Idai also caused damage, destruction, and deaths in neighboring Zimbabwe and Malawi. In Zimbabwe, the cyclone resulted in 181 deaths and affected at least 237,000 people, while at least 367,200 people were affected in Malawi. Two USAID/OFDA staff members deployed to Zimbabwe on March 28 to verify unmet needs in the country. The staff members plan to travel to Malawi in the coming days to assess the extent of humanitarian needs in the country.

Current Situation

As of March 28, Tropical Cyclone Idai had resulted in at least 493 deaths, representing an increase of 46 deaths since March 25, according to the GoM. Relief organizations expect casualty figures to continue to rise as flood waters recede and relief agencies identify additional bodies. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is working with provincial authorities to increase dead body management capacity. In addition, the storm damaged or destroyed more than 99,300 houses, representing an increase from more than 72,200 houses since March 25. Nearly 140,800 people were sheltering in more than 161 accommodation sites in Manica, Sofala, Tete, and Zambézia provinces as of March 28, the GoM reports. Overcrowding remains a primary concern in accommodation centers; the GoM and relief organizations are working to establish additional temporary shelters to reduce congestion in the existing centers.

On March 25, the HCT released a revised 2019 HRP for Mozambique to include an updated appeal to respond to the impacts of Tropical Cyclone Idai. The revised appeal notes that approximately 1.85 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance and requests nearly $282 million for a three-month period to address the emergency needs of cyclone-affected populations in Inhambane, Manica, Sofala, Tete, and Zambézia provinces. The HRP identifies food, health, shelter, and WASH as priority sectors in the affected areas. As part of the HRP, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the UN World Food Program (WFP) submitted a flash appeal to address emergency nutrition needs of vulnerable populations in the provinces affected by flooding. The appeal requests $9.5 million to reach approximately 395,900 people, including 303,400 children younger five years of age and 92,500 pregnant and lactating women with food assistance and nutrition assistance.

The GoM and relief agencies have expressed concerned about the potential spread of acute watery diarrhea (AWD) and cholera due to flooding related to the cyclone. As of March 29, international media had reported at least 139 confirmed cholera cases; however, health experts report that the cholera cases may not have not been confirmed in a laboratory. The UN World Health Organization (WHO) has not confirmed cholera case counts and DART members, in conjunction with U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) staff, are working to confirm the cholera caseload. In addition, GoM authorities have reported more than 2,500 AWD cases. WHO is focusing its efforts on providing additional supplies for identification and treatment of cases of AWD and cholera. The GoM Department of Health has also requested that humanitarian agencies prioritize the distribution of hygiene kits and conducting hygiene promotion activities to prevent the spread of the diseases.

Tropical Cyclone Idai has damaged or destroyed approximately 1.7 million acres of agricultural land just before the main harvest season, according to the GoM. Although food security and agricultural organizations are focused on addressing immediate food needs, a DART food security expert noted that the agricultural destruction could have long-term impacts on livelihoods. Given the loss of crops, affected populations will likely be dependent on humanitarian food assistance for several months. However, receding waters could make land available to plant short season crops, including fruits and vegetables that could help offset the storm’s impact on food security.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports significant gaps in humanitarian assistance in Sofala’s Dombe town. Populations are in need of health, food security, shelter, and WASH services. A UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination staff member is based in the area and will be working to scale up the humanitarian response in the coming days. Relief agencies are also prioritizing access to Sofala’s Buzi District—which had previously been inaccessible due to flooding—and are planning to provide emergency food assistance to approximately 20,000 people in need in the district. Relief organizations suspect that the unmet humanitarian need in Buzi is heightened, considering the population’s length of time without access to services.

From March 23–24, staff from UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination, the GoM, and other relief agencies conducted assessments in Manica’s Sussundenga District. The GoM identified approximately 3,040 households, or 21,280 people, in need of assistance in the district. Urgent needs include food rations, as well as relief commodities, such as kitchen sets.

To mitigate the spread of AWD and cholera, UNICEF and WHO are establishing four cholera treatment centers (CTCs) in Beira and Sofala’s Buzi, Dondo, and Nhamatanda districts. UNICEF and WHO are also tracking suspected cholera cases to appropriately target WASH services and messaging about cholera awareness through local radio. In addition, WHO plans to conduct a single-dose cholera vaccination campaign to target 900,000 people impacted by the storm; the vaccines are scheduled to arrive in Mozambique by March 31 and UNICEF, in coordination with WHO, plans to begin the vaccination campaign in the coming weeks. Finally, the GoM Ministry of Health plans to establish a cholera task force to focus on interventions related to controlling cholera outbreaks.

UNICEF reports that the Beira water system is operational but distribution is limited; the organization is supporting sanitation activities in the city and working to direct clean water to hospitals and CTCs. Relief actors also completed a door-to-door distribution of Certeza—a local water-treatment product approved for household use—on March 22. In addition, several medical teams are arriving in the coming days and various relief actors are transporting field hospitals to Mozambique as well.

On March 27, DART food, health, and WASH experts traveled to Beira to conduct an assessment of populations in need of assistance in and around the city. The roads, while passable, were inundated in some areas and trees and debris remained. Many homes and buildings were visibly damaged or destroyed, although some families were rebuilding or repairing homes. The Beira markets were operational and vendors were selling food and various household items.

DART members also visited two accommodation centers in Beira where individuals and families have been sheltering since the storm hit. Hygiene conditions at the facility were poor and the center manager noted that the food and other supplies provided by humanitarian agencies were insufficient for the number of people in need at the center. In addition, since the center is located in a school building needed to be used for its intended purpose, the government, in coordination with the International Organization for Migration (IOM), was planning to relocate the individuals to temporary shelters.

On March 29, DART health and WASH technical advisors traveled to Beira with the CDC Country Director for Mozambique to assess health and WASH needs in the community and gather additional information about the confirmed cholera cases in and around the city. The team verified that the 139 confirmed cholera cases were confirmed with rapid diagnostic tests, rather than in a laboratory.

The DART is working with DoD to utilize military air support and DoD’s unique capabilities to transport humanitarian cargo, emergency relief supplies, and food assistance to populations sheltering in and around Beira and Manica’s Chimoio town. As of March 28, DoD provided two U.S. military aircraft to be used as part of the Logistics Cluster’s common service pipeline to transport humanitarian commodities and equipment from Mozambique’s capital city of Maputo to Beira. In addition, DoD is transporting approximately 100 metric tons of nutrition commodities from South Africa to Beira for the treatment of approximately 10,000 children experiencing moderate acute malnutrition. To date, DoD has provided transportation assistance valued at more than $760,000.

USAID/FFP partner WFP began distributing food assistance to approximately 160,000 people in Manica, Sofala, and and Zambézia. The UN agency is rapidly scaling up assistance to reach 1.7 million people. WFP continues to distribute emergency food assistance in accommodation centers, as well as rural areas that are now accessible. WFP is also procuring large quantities of cereals, vegetable oil and fortified blended foods elsewhere in southern Africa; as conditions permit, WFP will shift to procuring food locally.

On March 29, the first of several shipments of USAID/OFDA emergency relief commodities departed USAID/OFDA’s warehouse in Pisa, Italy and is en route to Beira. Upon arrival, the commodities will be consigned to USAID/OFDA partner IOM for onward distribution.

Flooding and destruction caused by Tropical Cyclone Idai had resulted in at least 181 deaths and nearly 180 injuries as of March 25, according to the UN. An additional 330 people remained missing as of March 28. Humanitarian actors expect the death toll to rise in the coming days as information is gathered in previously inaccessible areas. In addition, Zimbabwe is experiencing outbreaks of cholera and typhoid that began in September, the UN reports. As a result, access to WASH services for populations affected by flooding will be critical to minimizing the spread of these diseases.

Flooding damaged critical infrastructure in seven districts in eastern Zimbabwe, with particularly severe damage in Chimanimani and Chipinge districts. The flooding affected approximately 115,000 people and 122,000 people in Chimanimani and Chipinge, respectively. In addition, the cyclone resulted in damage to an estimated 95 percent of roads and bridges in Chimanimani. In the coming months, food insecurity in Chimanimani and Chipinge is likely to escalate due to extensive crop destruction caused by flooding, according to OCHA. A February Integrated Phase Classification (IPC) analysis identified populations across Chimanimani and Chipinge as experiencing IPC 3—Crisis—levels of food insecurity.

Two USAID/OFDA staff members deployed to Zimbabwe on March 28. On March 29, the staff conducted an aerial assessment of Zimbabwe’s Chimanimani District with WFP representatives. In addition to the aerial assessment, the USAID/OFDA staff met with the Chimanimani District Administrator and representatives from the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society coordinating the distribution of relief items in the area

The USAID/OFDA staff also visited a displacement site, one of an estimated seven displacement sites in the district where those affected by the storm are staying, which hosted approximately 350 people. Those in the displacement site noted that they were the first to conduct search and rescue operations and some expressed an interest in being relocated. The team reported that relief actors, in coordination with the local government, are working to identify temporary relocation for nearly 700 households impacted by the cyclone-related flooding.

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has dispatched relief items—including cooking utensils, solar lanterns, tarpaulins, and tents—to assist refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) living in eastern Zimbabwe and affected by the flooding, as of March 25. Boreholes contaminated by floodwater pose a significant waterborne disease transmission risk, according to a UNHCR assessment in Chipinge’s Tongogara refugee camp. UNHCR staff estimate that the storm damaged more than 2,000 refugee homes and led to the collapse of at least 600 latrines in Tongorara.

Flooding caused by Tropical Cyclone Idai had affected more than 367,200 people across southern Malawi’s Chichawa, Nsanje, Phalombe, and Zomba districts as of March 22, according to IOM. The UN noted shortfalls in agriculture, protection, and shelter needs despite efforts of humanitarian organizations to scale up emergency assistance in the affected areas. Many primary transport routes in southern Malawi—including roads connecting Mwanza, Chikawa, and Bangula towns—remain impassable or restricted as of March 26, according to WFP. Relief actors warn that inadequate WASH resources at nearly 190 internally displaced person (IDP) camps and informal settlements have increased the risk of outbreaks of waterborne diseases such as cholera. In response, relief organizations are working to increase response capacity in affected areas.

The USAID/OFDA staff members currently in Zimbabwe plan to travel to Malawi in the coming days to assess the extent of humanitarian needs and work to identify response and resource mobilization options.

Tropical Cyclone Idai made landfall over Mozambique’s city of Beira, Sofala Province, on March 15, producing torrential rains and strong winds and severely affecting Manica, Sofala, Tete, and Zambézia provinces. The cyclone also caused significant flooding, damage and destruction of property and infrastructure, and resulted in numerous deaths in southern Malawi’s Chichawa, Nsanje, Phalombe, and Zomba districts and Zimbabwe’s Manicaland Province. The same weather system had previously brought heavy rains that caused significant flooding in Malawi and Mozambique in early March, before gaining strength in the Mozambique Channel and evolving into a tropical cyclone.

On March 10, U.S. Ambassador to Malawi Virginia E. Palmer declared a disaster due to the effects of floods in Malawi. In response USAID/OFDA provided an initial $200,000 to CARE and Catholic Relief Services. On March 15, U.S. Ambassador to Mozambique Dennis W. Hearne declared a disaster due to the effects of floods in Mozambique. Ambassador Hearne declared a second disaster on March 19 due to the impact of Tropical Cyclone Idai in Mozambique. In response, USAID/OFDA provided $200,000 to CARE to procure emergency relief commodities and support shelter and WASH interventions. USAID/OFDA also provided $200,000 to World Vision to response to immediate WASH and shelter needs. On March 18, U.S. Ambassador to Zimbabwe Brian A. Nichols declared a disaster due to the impact of Tropical Cyclone Idai. In response USAID/OFDA provided an initial $100,000 to GOAL to procure emergency relief commodities and support shelter and water, sanitation, and hygiene interventions.

On March 20, USAID activated a DART to lead the USG response to Tropical Cyclone Idai in Mozambique. USAID also stood up a Washington, D.C.-based RMT to support the DART. The DART and RMT are responding to the situation in coordination with other USG counterparts, GoM representatives, and humanitarian partners.

The most effective way people can assist relief efforts is by making cash contributions to humanitarian organizations that are conducting relief operations. A list of humanitarian organizations that are accepting cash donations for disaster responses around the world can be found at

USAID encourages cash donations because they allow aid professionals to procure the exact items needed (often in the affected region); reduce the burden on scarce resources (such as transportation routes, staff time, and warehouse space); can be transferred very quickly and without transportation costs; support the economy of the disaster-stricken region; and ensure culturally, dietarily, and environmentally appropriate assistance.

More information can be found at:

  • USAID Center for International Disaster Information: or +1.202.661.7710.
  • Information on relief activities of the humanitarian community can be found at

Last updated: April 03, 2019

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